Things not to do while being pissed off about international politics:

-Listen to A Perfect Circle's remix of Pet, Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums.

-Argue with a professor's lecture on The Lady of Shalott in the margins of my notes until I can barely make them out for all the point-for-point rebuttal. I am maybe a little bit of a nerd.

-Try to write a coherent Middlemarch paper about how George Eliot forces the reader into a passive role of a judgmental society without descending into a rant. (I spent five pages analyzing the first few sentences of the book to prove this point and by the end I grew weary of defending it.)

-Work. Which I will have to go to in ten minutes and which I am dreading.

-Post to LJ. Heh.
The other day, I was talking to my brother over IM and he sent me a link to a live video of Metallica playing "Enter Sandman" at the Monsters of Rock concert outside Moscow in 1991.

So I clicked on the link, and the first thing I IMd back to him was goddamn.

Official estimates put concert attendance at 500,000; other people claim it was as high as 1 million plus. What struck me about it, though, was not the music (I'm not that into live music, especially not at such low quality, unless I'm actually at the concert), but the feel of it.

It's like watching an apocalypse.

The shots that pan out show hundreds of thousands of people, speakers jutting from the crowd like ships, helicopters crossing overhead. Seriously, if you said apocalypse, I would pull out that picture, and hand it to you, and you would nod and say, yeah, yeah that's about it.
I have fallen hard for Leadbelly (or Lead Belly--bit of a controversy about his name) recently, in large part because of the mythos surrounding him, but also in large part just because his music is so. damn. good. He's such a character, and whether or not you know it, you've heard some of his music. Of course, on a number of these songs, there's no clear distinction between original "artist" and the person who claimed them, but it's safe to argue that Leadbelly's performances, as some of the first recorded versions of what may have been traditional songs, directed the course much of the music would take.

We'll start with Midnight Special, since it was so popular. It's been covered by everyone ever, basically, including my personal favorite, which is CCR's version.

Led Zeppelin, of course, did a version of Leadbelly's original Gallows (or Gallis) Pole. Zeppelin's is creepy as hell and really opens up an interesting musical dialogue with the first in terms of what sorts of musical techniques are useful in echoing subject matter. Leadbelly's is fairly straightforward blues narration; Zeppelin's is much more in the style leading into their later "When the Levee Breaks" (which is actually a cover as well, but not of Leadbelly.)

The song everyone remembers the Animals for? House of the Rising Sun? Was originally titled In New Orleans, and was a little darker, a lot more monotone, and had a slightly less complex melody.

And Johnny Cash's I Got Stripes is a cover of Leadbelly's original On a Monday. If anyone is entitled to cover Leadbelly, it's Johnny Cash--they were both moody, violent bastards, brilliant musicians, in and out of jail.

Music is so amazing. Classic rock especially, full of these references to what came before, riffs and tempos and lyrics. Everything pays homage to its ancestors while simultaneously creating something new.
It's snowed probably four inches since last night and the plow has not been past on either of the streets that intersect at our corner. This does not bode well for my wading to work. It's strange, though--usually, as soon as I see a flake of snow, I also hear that grating, grinding sound of the plows getting to work. Come on, Madison, I know it hasn't snowed much this winter, but still. You're falling down on the job.

I am the only one awake in the apartment, mostly because I can't ever sleep more than seven hours at a stretch. I suppose that's not technically accurate--The Cat is also awake, and doesn't seem to realize that she won't fit on my lap with my laptop and recharging mp3 player. Right now, having given up her attempts to nudge my laptop off me, she's sulking on the futon, paws curled under, staring at me. I honestly have no idea why she decided to claim me out of the three of us, but she's forever climbing onto chairs with me and into bed with me and curling around my legs when I'm trying to get ready to go out. And she's a big girl. She was morbidly obese when her original owners surrendered her to the Humane Society, and although she's lost eight pounds under her foster caretaker, she's still pretty massive. She's gorgeous, though, grey and white and this strange shade of peachy beige that I don't think I've ever seen on a cat before.

Something about the snow makes me feel very quiet. It makes me feel like this, a song by David Berkeley called Fire Sign. I want to stand in a wide open field, nothing but my footprints in the white, and close my eyes. I think I'll walk down to the lake in a few minutes and just watch the snow fall for a while. It's a perfect calm.
I am currently knitting this hat out of a nice red wool that I acquired on super clearance omg please buy me right now sale. My circular 8 is too long, though, and I only have four 8 double-points between which to divide 90 stitches, meaning that either way, it's annoying to knit. I may have to raid my roommate's needle collection in search of one more double-point. I know you totally wanted to know this.

As I was washing dishes today at work, the classic rock radio station decided to play the Zeppelin version of When the Levee Breaks, meaning that I fell back in love with Zeppelin had to listen to them when I came home. It's the first time in a while. The classic rock station in DC was not particularly diverse (so much Pink Floyd! so much Sabbath! so much Eagles! so much vomiting in my mouth!) There was a period of about a year when any of the songs on side one of Zeppelin IV as well as Four Sticks would make me break out in hives because I'd heard them so often. Now that I've moved away from DC's classic rock station, I've discovered that I can once again listen to most of the stuff they played all the time. I've rediscovered an affinity for The Who and Black Sabbath and sent Deep Purple on a temporary vacation. It's a nice shift.

Here in Madison, there's still way too much of the Eagles and Pink Floyd, but instead of Zeppelin, they play way too much Tom Petty. Which is doubly annoying because he only actually sings one song, but that is a rant for another day.

I never really realized how much I was brought up by my choice in music until a few months ago. I assumed everyone was at least conversant in classic rock. But then I realized--as I was watching SPN with my roommate, actually--that all these bands I was squeeing about (Kansas! Journey! Metallica! CCR!) weren't part of her lexicon of musical touchstones. I realized, as I probably should have sooner, that my ability to quote extensively from the Black Album was not an enviable skill.

But that's what I grew up with: days full of the Beatles and the Kinks, falling asleep to baseball on the radio, Cal Ripken and Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar, weather so hot and humid it hurt to breathe, a crystal radio and the imprint of grass on the backs of my summer-brown thighs.
One song rec: Panjabi MC & Jay-Z (is he still calling himself that? did I read somewhere that he changed his name to something else? *is woefully out of synch with culture post-1750*)

Mundian to bach ke (Jay-Z remix)

One sort-of song rec: My little brother, who is sometimes just a brilliant musical satirist:


One fic rec:

Weight and Motion by [ profile] sevenfists

SPN/Firefly (my two favorite shows ever omg); Dean/Mal (two of my favorite characters omg); brilliant writing (which is just plain omg)

Also: self, this is a note to freakin' review the story at some point this week. Instead of just squeeing about its brilliance and never telling the author.
If you have not yet discovered The Magnetic Fields, you must listen to them. Seriously. I forgot how much I liked them, and then "Papa Was a Rodeo" came on my random shuffle playlist and I fell truly madly deeply back in love.

And actually, while I'm at it, eight songs I love by artists I love and the reasons why:

Cut because I am a rambler, yo )



May 2010



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